CNC machines are a set of modern manufacturing equipment that are ideal for producing components from a variety of materials, including timber, aluminium, plastic and more. 5 axis CNC machining takes classic CNC tools and adds a layer of capability that allows manufacturers to produce more accurate and complex components than ever before. Operating along 5 different axes, 5 axis CNC machines can use routers, drill bits, cutters and milling heads to approach a workpiece from any angle, allowing for shaping of detailed 3D components. In this article we will explore 5 axis CNC machining in more detail, helping you understand how the technology is used in modern manufacturing.

How Does 5 Axis CNC Machining Work?

CNC machines use Computer Numerical Control technology (CNC). Computer Numerical Controls are sets of computer-generated instructions that can be fed into a tool and used to cut, carve, rout and shape components and products. For 5 axis CNC machining, CNC instructions are typically generated from 3D computer models that allow designers to draw and produce highly complex workpieces.

5 axis CNC machines get their name from their operational axes. Where a 3 axis CNC machine operates along the X, Y and Z axes, 5 axis machines also rotate along their X and Y axes. In this configuration, 5 axis machines place the workpiece at the centre of the machine, then use tilting spindles and rotating tables to allow the tool to access the workpiece from any angle.

What is 5 Axis CNC Machining Used For?

The versatility of 5 axis CNC machines makes them perfect use in a range of industries. 5 axis machines find use among a range of timber, aerospace, medical, military and energy manufacturers, who use their machines to perform tasks that include:

  • Developing complex and custom products
  • Carving 3D shapes
  • Mould and buck making
  • Prototyping work
  • High-precision shaping
  • Improving component finishes

The Advantage of 5 Axis CNC Machining

Commercial 5 axis CNC machines are complex, precise pieces of equipment, and they can represent a significant outlay. For many workshops the investment is worth the expense, with 5 axis machining allowing them to produce components that could not be created any other way.

5 axis CNC machining offers a few major advantages:

  • Produce complex 3D designs that would be difficult or impossible to make by hand
  • Greater accuracy and higher tolerances that can only be achieved with computer controlled machining
  • Requires minimal set up and supervision to produce components once the cutting process is generated
  • Cutting conditions are optimised by keeping the spindle perpendicular to the workpiece, resulting in improved finishes and longer tool life

Getting More From 5 Axis CNC Machining

5 axis equipment is among the most capable machinery available to manufacturers. In many cases, businesses don’t understand the full capacity of their equipment, or they may lack the software required to create cutting programs that utilise the machine’s full abilities.

There are a few key areas of improvement that allow manufacturers to get more from 5 axis CNC production:

  • Personnel training. 5 axis machining offers additional capabilities that can produce incredibly complex results. But, that complexity means operators need to be trained to develop processes that take advantage of the machine’s axes to complete more tasks at one time.
  • Tooling for the task. Tooling is a major contributor to accessing the full capabilities of 5 axis CNC machines. The correct tooling allows for the execution of more complex processes, faster manufacturing speeds, longer tool life and improved component finishes.
  • Software and modelling. Modern CAD and CAM developers are rapidly improving their software offerings. Newer software is better at understanding the exact configuration of your 5 axis CNC machine and designing cutting programs that use its full capabilities. However, the software element of CNC manufacturing is no substitute for properly training your operators and industrial designers.

Get More From Your CNC Machines With Tooling by Panel Tools

Modern manufacturing is being driven by advances in machinery that allow workshops to produce higher quality components than ever before. 5 axis CNC machining is among the versatile and important manufacturing methods, seeing wide use throughout the timber industry. Unlocking the full capabilities of 5 axis machines means using the right tooling for the job. Panel Tools supplies a range of CNC tooling suitable for manufacturing timber and other soft materials like aluminium. Our team can design and produce CNC tools that are perfect for your application, allowing you to improve results and achieve more complex processes with your 5 axis CNC machine. To find out more about our custom CNC tooling or to make an enquiry, you can contact us online at any time.